Emergencies preparedness, response

Health worker Ebola infections in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Preliminary report


Publication details

Number of pages: 16
Publication date: May 2015
Languages: English
WHO reference number: WHO/EVD/SDS/REPORT/2015.1



This preliminary report summarizes the impact of the Ebola epidemic on the health workforce of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It investigates the determinants of infection and describes safe practices put in place to protect health workers during the epidemic. The report covers the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2015 and is presents findings from the 815 confirmed and probable cases for whom individual case reports were available.

The Ebola epidemic has taken a heavy toll on the already scarce health workforce. Among the health workers for whom final outcome is known, two-thirds of those infected died. Preliminary analysis shows that, depending on their occupation in the health service, health workers are between 21 and 32 times more likely to be infected with Ebola than people in the general adult population. With higher risks of exposure in caring for others, health workers were disproportionately impacted and traumatised by Ebola.

Health worker infections can be prevented. WHO and partners have worked with ministries of health, partners, managers and health workers to put in place infection prevention control (IPC) and occupational health and safety (OHS) strategies and supplies to prevent health worker infections and improve patient safety. Health worker protection and support must be at the core of emergency response, preparedness and efforts to build a resilient health system. Cementing this lesson learnt into practice can be a lasting tribute to health workers.

Related publications
Related links